Yorkshire Registry of Deeds

Post date: 25 March 2019

Since 1990 the Land Registry has been the organisation where property titles have been registered in England and Wales.

About 80% of property in England and Wales is registered, unregistered land is likely to belong to the Crown or the Church or the ownership is unknown. Registration of property is only compulsory when land changes hands so there is still unregistered property and the task of establishing ownership can be difficult.

The three Yorkshire Deeds Registries (East, North and West Riding) cover the early 18th century up to around 1970. These repositories do not hold the actual deeds but they do have copies known as memorials. They are a very useful source of information and can be accessed in the relevant Yorkshire repository in Beverley (East Riding), Northallerton (North Riding) and Wakefield (West Riding).

There are some things that you need to be aware of before making a search. In most cases you will need name of the person who owned the property at any given time, this will enable a search of the calendars of deeds which has to be done year on year looking at an entry that will show when that person bought or sold the property. Once you have that information you can then find the relevant memorial and find the details about the transaction. Registration was not compulsory so a small percentage pf property transfers are not recorded.

The memorial will contain details of the parties involved in the transfer, a description of the property, often with names of adjoining properties and their owners or occupiers. Often the details will include any rights of way, mineral, mining and access rights enjoyed by other persons or organisations.

Searching back in time through these deeds can often build up a detailed history sometimes from when the property was built up until the 1970s. Sometimes plans are included with the memorial. It can be a time consuming process researching the deeds and the older written copies of deeds can be difficult to read so you do need palaeographic skills to master the written text.

We have years of experience working in the Deeds Registries in Yorkshire and can offer a full tracing service for known properties or can help with deciphering those difficult to read texts.

Where past ownership is sought we can check the registries and find that information from when the property changed hands and the transfer was registered. Please do contact us for further information about this very useful resource for your property/family history projects.

For Solicitors we can obtain copies of registrations where ownership has to be established or there are property disputes where evidence is sought on such things as rights of way, boundaries or access. We can also transcribe difficult to read documents. Please get in touch if you would like to know more.